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Former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters Announces 3rd Retirement from Tennis

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 12, 2022

Kim Clijsters, of Belgium, returns a shot to Katerina Siniakova, of the Czech Republic, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Women's tennis player Kim Clijsters announced Tuesday that she was retiring from tennis, her third retirement from the sport. 

"I want to share with you that I have decided to no longer play official tournaments," she wrote on Instagram. "I can't wait to see what new adventures will cross my path. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past two years!"

Clijsters, 38, is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and ascended to the top ranking in the world four separate times. But injuries and the desire to start a family led to her retirement in 2007 at the age of 23. 

She returned in 2009 and had an impressive stretch in the coming years, winning the U.S. Open in consecutive years (2009-10) and the Australian Open in 2011. She also reached the top ranking in the world for a third time in 2011. 

But she retired for a second time in 2012, with that one sticking until 2020. 

Unlike her last comeback, however, Clijsters struggled in her final return to the game, playing in only five matches, though injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic played a part. And yet again, the desire to focus on her family has led her to part with the sport. 

"Yeah, it's been on my mind for a while," Clijsters told Greg Garber of WTATennis.com about her decision to retire again. "I still love to hit the ball. With my schedule three, four days was enough to keep my rhythm under control but definitely not good enough if I decided to play another tournament. Say, if I picked Australia, it's three, four weeks. That's just not possible at this stage in our family life. Life just sort of takes over, right?"

Her final match came in October at Indian Wells, when she lost to Katerina Siniakova in the first round.

Clijsters' impressive career led to her being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017. That will immortalize her in the sport forever, but Clijsters believes she'll continue to have some role in the game, even if she isn't playing professionally. 

"My passion for tennis will never leave no matter what I do," she said. "I feel a very big need to give back to tennis because I’ve gotten so much out of it. So, yeah, that will be the next phase, to see where can I go."